Tuesday, June 29, 2010


If you know me personally, what I’m about to write may make you laugh derisively with incredulity. But it’s still the truth: I am a shy person.

I can talk. I can make conversation. I can connect verbally. I’ve learned to do these things the hard way, but it’s almost never comfortable for me. It’s work. And the odds of my saying something odd or stupid are always high because I’m usually a little bit nervous when I speak. Why? Because I’m shy. I am emotionally hesitant and it effects my communication.

Let me give you an example of how shy I am. This really happened.

When I was a kid I went to a Baptist church. In fifth or sixth grade, some of the kids at church started “going out,’ which didn’t mean they actually went out, it meant they had agreed to be boyfriend and girlfriend when the Sunday School class went on trips and such. Like skating or going to Cedar Point. So. There was this girl. I thought she looked nice. I don’t remember her name. I almost remember what she looked like, but not really. It’s all vague. But I do remember getting my friend to ask this girl if she would “go” with me. Which he did. And she said “yes.”

So far so good.

But that meant I was probably supposed to actually talk to the girl, right? I mean, I should say something. “Hello,” maybe, or “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a church like this?” Hardy har har. But I had never spoken to the girl before and for the life of me I couldn’t think of anything to say to her. We smiled at each other across the room a few times for a few Sundays in a row — which made me nervous — but I could not get up the nerve to talk to her. So a few Sundays later she talked to my friend and told him it was over. We would have to break up because I was too . . . shy.

And I was. And I still am. Inside, I feel the same way now as I did then.

But over the years I’ve learned to talk to people. My wife helped me with this a lot. She is a very social person. And I’ve had good friends over the years who listened, even when I was saying some profoundly stupid things. So I learned. I learned to ask questions. I learned to articulate. And I do like stories and ideas, I like to pass them on. I even do public speaking now, but it’s never easy.

Overall, I would be content to say much less than I do, but it’s important to talk, even if you’re not completely comfortable doing it, even if you sound dumb sometimes. It’s important to connect with people verbally. In fact, the more you do it, the easier it can become. And you will likely get better at it, which can be important too. A day may come when you wish you had prepared yourself to communicate. It can be devastating to know something needs to be said, for your own sake or for the sake of someone else, but you don’t have the words because you haven’t learned the art of expressing yourself.

Words are complicated things. They take practice. Especially for shy people.

Luke 21:15
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mysteries of the Mind

No kidding. I’m standing on my front porch and I glance to the right and see another dead bird in the bush in front of our house. It apparently hit our front window and fell onto the bush where it lay, a big black bird with shiny feathers. I’m going to have to get out there and do something with it. I can at least bury this one.

What makes finding these birds stand out to me is that over the past few weeks I’ve become kind of obsessed with a weird question. This happens to me a lot. I come up with a weird question and I can’t figure out the answer and it gets into my mind and won’t go away, but it’s almost always something nutty.

For instance. An example that is not the question I am currently obsessed about. A long time ago I thought up a question that I still don’t have an answer to that I find satisfactory. The question is this:

Why do men have nipples?

I’m just saying. I know it’s a weird question. I know it reveals that I probably have some kind of psychological disorder. But, still, I wonder . . . why? They are pointless.

And, so, back to the birds. I have been mulling over another question the past few weeks that won’t leave me alone. And it goes something like this:

This world is FULL of animals, wildlife of all kinds, birds by the trillions, foxes, cats, mice and rats and squirrels. And on occasion you find a dead one. I found a dead squirrel in the tree in my backyard last year. And it really stood out to me because how often do you find a dead squirrel unless it has been hit by a car on the road, right? So, here are the basics of the question:

Where are all the animal bodies? Where are all the dead animals? They don’t have tremendously long life spans, and yet you just don’t see a lot of animal bodies laying all over the place. Are the animals having secret little squirrel funerals in the woods that we don’t know about? Elephants have graveyards, but what about rabbits? Where do all these animals go when they die? Is the process of decomposition so fast that they are gone within a day? Even so, why don’t we see more of them before they decompose. Is it a part of their instincts to get under a bush somewhere to die?

This world is full of things that can make us wonder, wonder, wonder. Don’t you think?

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010


The family and moi were at a campground the past few days. Because I’m with them, we got a little cabin to stay in. I don’t tent. Call me a sissy if you want. I don’t care. I just laugh at you when the rain comes.

Next to our cabin one day we came across this bird on the ground, breathing his last. Literally. It’s chest was heaving, it’s head was pulled back, trying to breath, doing everything it could to stay alive, but there was no hope. I wondered what was taking the bird down. Did it run into the window on the side of the cabin? Did it just get old and have a heart attack and fall from the tree above? There’s no way to know.

It was compelling stuff. It was hard to watch, and yet we couldn’t walk away. Together, we saw how death takes over. How the fight is lost. And I think it was good for us to see. All of us.

This bird had been able to fly, which is something I can only dream of. It made it’s way out of the nest and into the world with very little help. Like all birds, it was amazing. An intricate work of art that decorated the skies.

I wasn’t sure what to do with the body. I wanted to honor it somehow, but I couldn’t think of anything. I didn’t have a shovel to bury it. I ended up putting it in a plastic cup and setting it in a garbage can.

Death is a part of things. We shouldn’t obsess over it. But it’s a reality we need to face. If you don’t, you won’t make good use of the time you have here. If you’re pretending you’re going to be here forever, then you’re likely to waste a lot of good time doing . . . stuff. You know. Stuff.

Matthew 10:29-31
Psalm 90:12
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Father Before Me

My Dad is 83 years old. It’s weird to think of him as an old man, but that’s what he has become. Still, he has a youthful way about him, even though he has a disease called “Lewy Body Disorder” which is slowly stealing his mind and body away. But, overall, he’s doing pretty good. In his prayers he recently began thanking God for letting him live a good long life. I’m with him on that one. I hope for the same.

I wrote a song for my dad a while back. I thought, since it’s Father’s Day tomorrow, I’d share the words here. In honor of my Dad, Luther Virgil McWhorter, who everyone calls “Bert” for some reason...


As I make my way through another day
I say something or do something that reminds me
I am more my father’s son than I ever thought I would be

And as the years go by, when I look in the mirror
I see my father looking right back at me
I am more my father’s son that I ever thought I could be

But it’s more than a grin or the outline of a smile
It’s the shape my heart takes as I’m trying to find the answers
It’s the longing within me as I’m looking to the skies
It’s the Hand of Heaven shaping that makes me what I am

Like my father before me
Like my father before me

I may never know him like I think I should
There’s a distance there that makes it quite a mystery
How I am more my father’s son than I ever though I could be

I may never know him like I wish I could
But if I learn to know myself maybe I can see
How I am more my father’s son than I ever thought I would be

Cause it’s more than the sound of my voice when I am speaking
It’s the shape my heart takes when I look out on the water
It’s the longing within me as I’m looking to the skies
It’s the hope of Heaven waiting that makes me what I am

Like my father before me
Like my father before me

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Brood

When I was a kid, there was a family living a few blocks away that were known for their brutality. They were legendary. It was a brood of four boys? Six? A little sister perhaps? No one knew for sure. No one dared get close enough to find out. But these savages lived in this dingy house with vague parents who either endorsed or didn’t care about how violent their kids were. Word was that if any of these boys even saw you they would beat you up just because they could.

Maybe I’m weird, but I have never liked being beaten up. It has happened a few times, and I survived, but I can’t say it was a good experience. So I avoided them. I saw members of the Brood in the distance from time to time, like a baby rabbit sees a hawk flying across the sky. I hunkered down and changed directions.

Life went by.

One summer day, I was with a friend from the neighborhood named John. We were walking through the alley from my house to his with one of my older brothers and John’s younger brother. Suddenly, without warning, two of the Brood were upon us. It all happened so fast. And the oldest of the Brood pair locked eyes on me, clearly the wimpiest of the bunch. He wanted to take me down, and he told us that was exactly what he wanted to do. There were no pretensions. I was literally terrified.

What kind of world is this anyway?

My older brother happened to be just a little bigger than the oldest of the Brood. So the Elder Brood asked my brother if he was going to interfere. And my brother said something to the effect that he might have to do that if I was the target. So the Elder Brood pointed at my friend and said, “What about him?” And I could see my brother struggling with this. Weighing it. He wanted to stand up for John, but he couldn’t justify the cost. John wasn’t blood so he wasn’t sure if he was willing to shed blood. Finally, he said something to the effect of, “I’m not in charge of him.”

I watched my friend, who was several inches taller than me, grimace and set himself. The Elder Brood did not hesitate. He moved in for the kill. But my friend turned out to be a pretty good match for him. They went at it, shuffling around on the ground, punching and writhing, until Elder Brood had enough. He jumped up and began brushing himself off. He had gotten a bit more than he bargained for. Whatever savage urge motivated the Elder Brood stepped aside and warned him to pull out before it was too late because he was starting to lose the fight. He said to John, “You fight pretty good.” Then ran away with the oblivious face of a psychopath.

I have wondered since: why didn’t all four of us stand up to the two of them together? The answer: we were too civilized. We were not equipped for this kind of random violence.

But, sadly, we were learning.

John had a cut on his lip. He was covered in dust and dirt. He was doing his best not to cry. After all, what had he done to deserve any of that? Nothing. And it has always bothered me. I had to watch someone else take a beating meant for me. And he did it with bravery. He did it with dignity. It was truly heroic.

It was no small thing, and I'm still thankful.

Romans 5:8
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Father's Torture

One of my daughters cut her finger the other day. She was using the apple cutter without permission and she took a little chunk out of one of her thumbs. It’s a little chunk, but she has a very little thumb. So it was hurting pretty bad. As she cried there was a look of helplessness on her face. She covered her mouth with her hand, crying, “It hurts! It hurrrrts!” And so we stayed calm in order to calm her. We took care of her and helped her get through it. We compressed it and finally got it to stop bleeding. It wasn’t stitch worthy, but it was close.

Even with something this small, it absolutely breaks my heart. I HATE seeing my children in pain. Of course I do. Any good parent does. It upsets me physically and emotionally to see them hurting. But you keep yourself calm and do everything you can to help them through it when it happens.

One of my other kids, a few years ago, ended up with a big cut on her forehead. It happened at an activity she was at. And it was WAY stitch worthy. It hurt you to look at it. So we drove her up to the after hours clinic to get it taken care of. And it still makes me cringe to think about it. It was so painful for her. (I was just trying to describe what they had to do and it’s making me upset, so I deleted it. You can just imagine for yourself.) But there wasn’t much we could do. I held her hand. I struggled with the anger I felt simply because my child was hurt. But we had to try and keep her calm while the doctor did his thing.

Sometimes, when this kind of thing is going on, my kids start saying, “Please Daddy! Please Daddy!” And what they are asking, with those two words, is for me to make the pain stop. Make it go away. Make things back how they were before the hurt started. And I would if I could, but I can’t.

And it’s like torture...

Which makes me think about God the Father looking at God the Son as the Son hung on the cross. I can’t help thinking about this. Watching my children in pain always takes me to this. And in that situation, if the Father stopped the pain, it would have stopped the forgiveness and redemption. The Father did not offer comfort because the pain and suffering was needed for our sakes. So they endured it. And, I think, it was a torture.

Not just for the Son, but for the Father.

Hebrews 12:2-3
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Middle

“You’re tearing me apart....”
James Dean, Rebel Without A Cause

So, this morning, I’m sitting at my desk near the window. In my right ear is the sound of one of my kids, in the bathroom, vomiting for the third time since she got out of bed. In my left ear is the sound of birds singing in the trees outside. They seem very happy about something.

Have you ever heard the word “incongruous?”

So much of my life seems to go like this. I live in the middle. I have one foot in joy and the other in sorrow. I feel good but I feel bad. I have hope but I’m out of answers. I live between what I am able to do or have time to do and what people expect me to do.

When I was a kid I was hanging out with two friends. We were out playing and the two of them wanted to do two different things, go in two different directions. One grabbed one of my hands to pull me in his direction and at the exact same time the other friend grabbed my other hand to pull me in the other direction. Very quickly I became a “thing” instead of a person. A rope for their tug of war. For a moment I became a “thing” they used to accomplish what they wanted, one way or another. And they pulled so hard, so fast, that they hurt me – but they weren’t very concerned about it because they were so focused on what they wanted.

And still, too often, this happens.

Galatians 1:10
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Laying Down Tracks

I’ve been doing some recording. Finally. I have a hard earned set up for recording my songs so I can at least try to submit them to publishers. And I have to say that it’s really been fun so far. I have great friends helping me lay down the tracks, and they are doing a fantastic job. Things are going very slow, but fairly smooth. I only have a few hours a week to work on this stuff.

When you commit yourself to recording, and doing it as right as possible, it is also very hard work. You have to listen to it over and over ad nauseam. And you have to be very precise. You discover very quickly what your limitations are, as long as you have the ears to hear it. The recording doesn’t lie. It doesn’t try to flatter you. If what you played is good, it tells you that. If what you played is off, it tells you that. It is totally honest.

Kind of like a good friend. Maybe.

There are times in the process when I wish the recording would just be better than it is. I wish it would lie to me. I want to hit playback and somehow that fret buzz would disappear or that note would be spot on instead of being slightly off. But it IS slightly off, so I do it again. Almost there. Slightly off again in a different spot. Do it again. Slightly off somewhere else. Arrrrrrrrrrge!

Sure, there are tools for smoothing things out, and even the best of the pros use them, but they cost MONEEEY. And usually lots of it. But the thing is, there has to be some talent and precision there in the first place or you just end up with a mess no matter what. And don’t even get me started on what it takes to actually write a “good” song. Despite what you may have heard, the music business is not full of talentless people who are manufactured into presentability by studio tricks. Small imperfections and issues can be smoothed out, but garbage in almost always equals garbage out.

Kind of like life.

Some of the people working with me are in other bands that you might like. Check ‘em out if you’re interested...

My friend Greg is in a great cover band called “Ultra Violet.” They play around town. He also has a band called “Strawberry Alternative” doing his own songs. You can check that out here...


My friend Tom is in a few bands too. The one that plays out a lot is called “A Hundred Miles.” You can check them out at...


Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Brain Trails

Okay. To show you what I have to deal with, I’m going to try to explain to you one of the many distractive -- I know it's not a word, I like it anyway -- thinking excursions I have to endure within my head on a regular basis. We’ll see if you can make it through this whole thing without totally giving up on me.

The better half and yours truly were watching David Lean’s Brief Encounter. It was amazing, of course. The only thing I didn’t think was great was the soundtrack, which is what a lot of people love about the movie. It’s all done on piano and seems a little soap opera to me, but that’s my own baggage, not any real fault of the movie.

Thing is, in key points of the film, a certain melodic line was used and it kept gnawing at me. I knew I’d heard it before, even though I’d never seen the movie before. Then, about an hour or so into the film I realized what it was. It was part of the melodic line of the song “Without You” by Harry Nilsson. “I can’t liiiiiiiiiiiiive if livin’ is without yooooooou.” It was plain as day.

So I’m thinking Nilsson lifted this from the movie.

But then I find out that the soundtrack of the movie was all Rachmaninoff pieces. I’ve never been a big fan. But he was a very famous piano man composer dude in spite of my distaste. They just decided that it was right for the film and that’s what they went with. So, I realize, Harry Nilsson probably lifted the melodic line from Rachmaninoff.

I needed to confirm this supposition. Needed.

So I went online and googled Nilsson and Rachmaninoff. I find out that “Without You” wasn’t even written by Nilsson, even though it was a big hit for him. It was actually written by a guy in Badfinger who later committed suicide. Ironically enough. But as for the connection, nothing comes up. No connection.

But one writer notes how the Eric Carmen power ballad "All By Myself" borrows heavily from “Without You” for tone and such, which spurs me to listen to THAT song, which I hadn’t heard in years and years, which reveals that THAT is the song that actually lifts the Rachmaninoff. I had them mixed up. Eric Carmen used the melody thinking it was public domain, which it wasn’t, so he had to make a deal with Rachmaninoff’s estate after the fact. Hmmmmmmmmmm...

I know. I know. All of this is ridiculous and pointless. But this is my brain. I can’t live with it. I can’t live without it. It’s almost as if I have to do what it tells me to do.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


It was the month of March, and the principal of Edison Elementary announced that we would be having a kite flying contest the next day at recess. This caused immediate excitement among us kids. This was a big deal.

So I went home and told my mom, but there was a problem: My dad was at work and, the thing is, my dad was almost always at work. My dad worked all the time. He was hardly at home at that point in our lives. And mom didn’t drive. So I had no way to get a kite. What’s a boy to do?

Fortunately, I have a great mom.

We found some sticks, mom and me, and we made a kite. A very special kite. It was made out of my moms nylons, pulled over the sticks into a kite shape. And it was amazing. I tried it in the front yard and the thing was like a bird. It wanted to soar. It was extremely light weight and it caught the wind like a miracle . . . and I knew, I KNEW, I was going to win that competition the next day. Who needs one of those dumb store bought kites anyway?

The next morning I got ready for school and I literally had a smile in my heart. I’m not kidding, there’s no better way to describe it. All was right with the world as I got ready and took my kite out the door, headed for the bus stop. When I got there, the other kids weren’t sure what to make of my kite, but when they started to think about it, they realized it could work. I could be the king of the playground. It actually caused a little buzz on the bus as we drove to school.

When we arrived at school, everyone got up to get off the bus. Suddenly, the kids behind me started to push. They were just messing around. They weren’t thinking. It was normal kid stuff, but they pushed so hard that I couldn’t stop it and I fell forward into the kid in front of me, crushing my kite, breaking it into several pieces. It was completely destroyed.

My teacher tried to help me put it back together but it was useless. Nothing was going to fix it. It sat next to my desk, pathetic and hopeless.

I can remember, during recess, looking up in the sky at the other kites, floating above our heads all around the playground. All the colors. The wind moving gently through a perfect blue sky. It was beautiful. Everyone was having a great time.

Well. Almost everyone.

It’s a hard thing to feel joy and happiness passing you by, like a bus going to paradise, and there’s nothing you can do to make it stop and not leave you behind. It is a bitter thing to lose opportunity and hope, then have to stand watching others taste the joy you wished for but cannot have.

Sometimes I don’t know how we survive childhood without losing our minds. Seriously.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010